According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a huge surge in applications for new businesses took 2020 by storm. This likely doesn’t surprise you, though — between many companies unfortunately having massive layoffs due to shutdowns and thousands of working parents needing more flexibility to be at home with their kids, the pandemic provided an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to finally take that leap.
For those who are completely new to entrepreneurship, it can be an exhilarating yet overwhelming process. What do you need to know? Who do you need to speak with? How can you be successful? Those are likely just a few questions running through your mind.
We chatted with six professionals from a variety of industries to share their top tips of what you need to know when diving into entrepreneurship. Check out what they had to say.
What does attorney Lisa Sigman recommend? Setting a good foundation.
“My top recommendation for new entrepreneurs just starting out would be that you can’t build a roof on the ground — you have to have a good foundation first. In business, this means getting the right team ready: your insurance agent, your CPA, and a business attorney. That’s the trifecta. Each will help with protecting your business and your personal assets.”
Having the right professionals in your corner is key for ensuring you have all of your ducks in a row and properly set up to start doing business.
Are you aiming to streamline your processes right from the get-go? Kristen O’Neal from Spruce Hill Consulting views proper documentation as the best way to do that.
“I’d recommend that all new business owners create documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) right from the start. This may seem redundant or unnecessary for a solopreneur, but consistent and repeatable processes are important for all businesses, no matter the size,” says Kristen. “SOPs make running your business simpler and create a solid foundation that sets you up for future growth, as they allow you to provide high level customer service. By developing documented SOPs from the beginning, you’ll be able to reduce error rate, save time, and prepare yourself for an easy transition when you’re ready to outsource or delegate in the future.”
When hiring for a position within your company, it can feel extremely overwhelming to have to “brain dump” all of the steps for the tasks you’ll be delegating while training your new team member and staying on top of your work. Having SOPs already in place before you get to the onboarding process makes for a seamless hiring process.
Being organized from the start and forming the team who’s going to support your business efforts is crucial. As Matt Lauro, Senior Vice President for MountainOne Bank, explains, “In order to grow or start a business my best advice would be to be as well organized as possible and to form the team that you will work with for years to come. Track your financials on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis from the start. Grow your understanding of market trends, seasonality (if any) and margins of your business so that you can best optimize your productivity and profitability.”
That team involves having several professionals on your side who can guide you through the various stages of starting a business. “Pick a competent team and work closely with your CPA, Lawyer and Banker so that you are able to properly structure and organize your business so that you are able to take advantage of strategic opportunities as they arise,” explains Matt. “Ultimately, most business owner’s greatest portion of net worth is their business value, treat it as such and team up with professionals that will help you grow.”
You know what they say: work with people who are smarter than you.
Rather than try to offer everything under the sun, focus on what’s working best in your business and hone in on it.
Sales and Growth Strategist Jessica Miller points out, “Find the thing that’s working in your business and double down on that! Don’t spend your time doing ‘all the things.’ Find what works and do more of it.”
Why is that so important? “That is the easiest and fastest way to grow and make money while doing less in your business (and it’s also the most fun)!” Jess shares.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel — take note of where you excel, and find ways to do more of it.
Marketing and business consultant Leia Owen believes there isn’t just one item you need to focus on in your marketing — there are five! As she explains, “Starting a new business can be an exhilarating journey, but it also requires planning and hard work. Effective marketing is crucial for creating brand awareness, reaching your target audience, and driving business growth.”
You’ll first want to start by understanding your target audience. What does Leia advise? “Define the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of your ideal customers. Conduct market research to gain insights into their needs, preferences, and pain points. This knowledge will guide your marketing efforts and help you tailor your messaging to resonate with your target audience.”
From there, you can develop a strong brand identity that reflects your business values and resonates with your target market. Leia recommends, “Design a compelling logo, choose an appropriate color palette, and create consistent visual elements across all marketing channels. Craft a unique value proposition that sets your business apart from competitors.”
After you know the visual components of your brand, Leia stresses the importance of having a website for your business, or at least a landing page. Once you have that website up, you can use social media to expand your reach. Leia suggests, “Identify the platforms that are most relevant to your target audience and build a presence there. Start posting whenever you’re ready – and you can focus on one or two priority platforms – but reserve your business name (“handle”) ASAP on as many platforms as you can. Be as consistent as possible with names/handles/channels across each platform.”
Lastly, don’t forget to have a primary call-to-action (CTA) or a way to collect leads. Leia mentions, “Depending on your business, you may choose to send leads to your website/landing page, to your email list, to book an appointment, to place or schedule a call, and so on. One of the best ways is to build an email list and develop an email strategy to nurture leads and maintain customer relationships. You will want to share this call to action on social media, websites, in advertisements, at networking events, etc.”
As with anything in business, remember that it’s important to consistently review your marketing strategy and make changes to it as needed. This will give you a solid foundation for your business, attracting the right customers and creating long-term success!
Are you aware of the resources that are available to you and how you can use them to your advantage? Julia Becker Collins, Chief Operating Officer of Vision Advertising, recommends starting there.
As she explains, “Your business’ resources are finite, and they are also different from everyone else’s – even your competitors. It’s important not to fixate on any single one and understand that the resources you take for granted might be your most valuable ones. Your three primary marketing resources are: time, money, and expertise. You have a different amount of each of these available and the amounts shift over time.”
What does everyone think of first out of these resources? Money. Julia suggests, “Figure out how much you can budget for marketing – from running ads to outsourcing work.”
From there, you can think about the other two resources. “Time is a huge investment, especially as the owner or solo operator of your business. Expertise is the knowledge that you and/or your staff have to contribute to your marketing efforts,” says Julia.
Why is this important? “When you’re just launching your business, you may not have a large financial budget to outsource marketing, but maybe you have the time to study trends, attend free workshops, and manage marketing on your own,” Julia mentions. “Maybe someone on your team has some background with photography or social media and you can tap into expertise that way. As your business grows, so will your resources.”
Start by taking inventory of what resources you do and don’t have when launching your business so you can create a game plan and tackle it from there.
Remember that you never have to be alone when it comes to embarking on your entrepreneurial journey. Consulting with professionals who can point you in the right direction is the difference between a business that quickly takes off and a business that can barely get off the ground.